A couple of weeks ago we had another one of those releases from gog, some classics of PC gaming, that reminds us why we’re grateful they exist. I don’t mind that they’ve added indie games to the lineup, if it helps keep them in good financial health, but I’m glad to see the commitment to oldies continues.

The games in question come from the Wizardry series, the long-running line of hardcore fantasy RPGs. Common features being a party of several adventurers, a shared first-person view, and rather unforgiving turn-based combat. The full series isn’t available, sadly, although you really would have to be into your wizard hats, +2 maces of bashing and late night dungeon crawling to really get into the early-80s stuff. What we do get, though, is the final three games, which form their own trilogy.

First up there’s Wizardry 6 and 7 for $6. You could call these the last outings of “old-school” wizardry, with a basic tile-based engine to approximate 3d graphics. I never played 6, but did spend countless hours on 7, aka Crusaders of the Darak Savant, in my mid-teens. In fact it must have accounted for several school holidays, sat in front of the family pc whilst listening to my Greatest Hits of 1993 tape (featuring Haddaway and Annie Lennox). While other kids were going outside or, talking to girls or something I was exploring the fortress of orkogore, level-grinding killing monsters in the mountains, mapping the sea of sorrows and fighting T’Rang in the city of Nyctalinth. And, er, dying and reloading a lot.

The pack also includes Wizardry Gold, a remake of 7 for windows 95, but I honestly wouldn’t bother. Unless you have a burning desire to listen to terrible voice acting.

Then we have Wizardry 8. This arrived about nine years after 7 and moved the series over to true 3d graphics, which caused some oddities in the combat. For example in old games enemies lined up in neat rows rows, an obvious abstraction of an actual battle. Now they can move around freely, but your team is stuck in a huddle because of the shared first person view..

That said, I think it made a grand effort at updating the mechanics whilst still feeling recognizably like a Wizardry game. So there’s plenty of satisfying tactical combat once again. Also, like 7, it has its own unique mix of fantasy and technology, sending you up against up against both sword-and-magic wielding monsters, and killer androids. Here are my thoughts, from relatively soon after release.

(Sidenote: if someone was to make a wizardry today, they could probably go deliberately retro and return to the tile-based mechanics. 8 came too late for that sort of thing to be considered current, and too soon for nostalgia-based gaming to be viable).